Papua, a remote and impoverished yet resource-rich Indonesian province, is at risk of a descent into conflict that would likely destabilize the entire country. According to this report from commission Indonesia and Southeast Asia experts, Indonesia’s central government can avoid conflict in Papua by giving it greater self-governance and a stake in the development of its vast natural wealth.
The commission recommends concrete steps international stakeholders can take to encourage full and effective implementation of the Special Autonomy Law, which promises substantial portions of the province’s wealth to Papuans. Indonesian authorities passed the law, but it was never put into force. According to the report, granting special autonomy would preserve Indonesia’s territorial integrity while advancing the needs of Papuans.
The commission proposes three steps that the Indonesian government and the international community should take. First, the Indonesian government must accelerate full implementation of the Special Autonomy Law instead of dividing Papua into three provinces, as is currently being discussed. Second, international stakeholders, including the World Bank, the UN Development Program, and the Japanese government, should launch a “Preventive Development Program” for Papua to link donor contributions with conflict-prevention strategies. And third, international businesses profiting from the development of Papua’s energy and mineral resources should engage more ethnic Papuans and help combat corruption by disclosing the payments they make to the government.